The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 26, 2014

Dry vegetation, drought conditions are contributing to an increase in grass fires

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Dry conditions persist throughout much of the state, making this a dangerous time for wildfires.

Much of the vegetation around is dry and easily combustible, and we’ve seen several grass fires statewide in the past couple of weeks.

A major contributing factor to the situation is lingering drought conditions.

More than 68 percent of the state, including the entire western half of the state, is in some sort of drought classification, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report.

Many areas, including most of Garfield County, are listed as abnormally dry, while many other areas are listed as being in moderate drought.

The Panhandle and southwest part of the state are in the worst shape, with most of the Panhandle listed in severe or extreme drought. The only part of the state listed in exceptional drought, the worst category, is in southwest Oklahoma.

These dry conditions combined with gusty winds can quickly turn a small blaze into a large fire, and that can put people and property in danger before you know it.

According to Oklahoma Forestry Services, nine of every 10 wildfires area caused by humans and could easily have been prevented.

Such things as tossing a lighted cigarette out your car window, driving on a flat tire, parking on dry grass or dragging chains on the road can create the spark needed to cause a major fire.

The thing is, it’s easy to not do those things, yet too often people do them and cause problems.

Play it safe and do the common-sense things.

If you don’t, the consequences could be deadly.